Minneapolis’ The Armory venue is a space steeped in music history. As well as being the site of many a triumphant gig, it’s also where local legend Prince filmed his video for ‘1999’ and, slightly less coolly, was the setting for Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ visuals. Tonight (April 25), another piece of pop brilliance is being written into its history books – Lorde’s instantly iconic ‘Solar Power’ show.
From the second the black curtain shrouding her artful stage production drops, it feels like we’ve been whisked off to another planet. It’s fitting that the set begins with ‘Leader Of A New Regime’, a song that imagines life in the future when we’ve destroyed the earth and had to flee to a distant sanctuary – the effervescent, colour-changing sun that lights the whole show and the rotating ladder that sometimes leads up to it feel both alien and warm; a fresh but safe bolthole to escape the turmoil of the world outside.
In this idyllic haven, we experience everything from the break of day to the last glimmers of night, the central disc shadowy and dark during ‘Leader Of A New Regime’ and ‘Homemade Dynamite’, but drenched in luminescent pink dawn by the time ‘Buzzcut Season’ rolls around. At the latter end of the set, it shines green for ‘Green Light’ (of course) before turning moon-like for ‘Royals’ and dripping in a red glow for the closing euphoria of ‘Team’.
As we move through a light-speed day with Lorde, the star acts as our personal tour guide around the new planet. She welcomes us like old friends, crying out at one point in a dramatically affectionate voice: “I wanna squeeze you!” At regular intervals, she stops and tells the crowd to shout if they need anything – impeccable hospitality – and, despite the relatively small stage she’s performing on, shows us around each part of it, delivering each song from a different area. ‘Sober’ finds her climbing halfway up the ladder, her silhouette basking in the backlit glow of the sun before she returns to the ground while, after bouncing around to an energetic ‘Supercut’, she finishes the song by laying dreamily on the base of the steps, a camera capturing her pose from above.
Just as we break our normal days up into different periods, the set is split into three acts (and an encore), each section pulling together tracks from all three of Lorde’s dazzling albums so far and regrouping them into a new narrative. Act one deals with searching – ‘Homemade Dynamite’’s quest for new flirtations or ‘Stoned At The Nail Salon’’s questioning if you’re on the right path (“Are you ready to cry?” Lorde teases before the latter, the audience screaming back with emotional glee).
Act two, meanwhile, feels like an ode to coming to terms with who you are and the life you’re building, weaving through the curveballs that get thrown your way. ‘Big Star’ threatens to start the waterworks again as Lorde leans against the big ladder and shares a sermon to devotion and grief, while she sits on the stairs for a beautiful ‘Liability’, a song about learning how to be your own best friend.
Tearful emotions might reign supreme in the first two acts, but act three brightens the mood, exploring more euphoric feelings and atmospheres. ‘Perfect Places’ unites the crowd in making The Armory’s floor bounce so much it feels like the tiling beneath our feet has been replaced by a trampoline and the satirical ‘Mood Ring’ brings some tongue-in-cheek levity to the show.
On ‘Solar Power’, Lorde ask us to help her conjure up some magic, reflecting on the inspiration behind the song. “I wrote this song ’caused I wanted to capture a very specific feeling,” she explains, detailing a sexy, salty summery-ness. “I wrote this so, no matter what the weather was doing outside, I could summon that feeling. Basically, this song is a spell.” She instructs the audience to whisper it with her, a clever move that sees the final, blissed-out explosion of the song’s title being chanted feel even more ecstatic and uplifting, erupting with enough pure, sun-kissed joy to blast away the frosty chill outside the venue’s walls.
After a brief interlude soundtracked by the 7,000-strong audience yelling Lorde’s name, our chaperone returns to the stage to head back to a simpler time. She airs a pair of early tracks written when she was a teenager to close the night – a crisp, confident ‘Royals’ and ‘Team’, a nod to a fantasy world inhabited by all your favourite people. It feels like an apt end to a dream sojourn from real life – earlier in the set, Lorde sang “Let’s go to perfect places” and, tonight, it feels like there are few more perfect than this.
‘Leader Of A New Regime’
‘Stoned At The Nail Salon’
‘Secrets From A Girl (Who’s Seen It All)’